I finally have a chance to sit down and write about an amazing experience I had last week. I was in South Carolina, conducting a commissioned work for their 9/10 All-State Orchestra. The kids were awesome and played the snot out of the my new full orchestra piece, "The City on the Mountain," but I have to relate the story of how I went from honored composer-in-residence to total fanboy when I met two amazing people.
The first was Dale Clevenger. If you're a horn player, he needs no introduction, but if not, here's a brief bio: best freaking horn player ever, conductor, heckuva nice guy. Seriously, this is a man who played principal horn for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for 25 years! He's a beast on the instrument, and as it turns out, a very fine conductor as well. A true living legend.
The second was Andy Dabczynski. Dr. Dabczynski just retired from Brigham Young University where he was their string pedagogy guy. He's a phenomenal composer and arranger, too. This man, along with Richard Meyer, Carold Nunez, and M.L. Daniels, is my compositional guide star - he was THE guy to emulate (especially when writing folk or fiddle-style pieces).
The first night that we were in South Carolina, my wife and I had the opportunity to go to dinner with Andy. We talked for a few hours about the people we knew in the business. But as we chatted, I had the most amazing epiphany: "This guy doesn't judge me for writing 'kid' music!" In fact, as we talked, it became very apparent that there was a mutual respect between us and by the end of the night, my wife commented on how happy I looked while talking to Andy.
Andy has that effect on people - he brings out the best in them. Cliché, yes, but true nonetheless. I was never more validated than I was that evening. He helped remind me why I went into music education in the first place. And he also made me feel like what I do makes a difference.
So, here's to Andy Dabczynski, one of my heroes! I hope that he continues to inspire many more generations of music students and educators!